Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Daily Beast thrashed over op-ed that ‘dirtbag left’ is actively courting the far-right

By Claire Goforth, Daily Dot

The Daily Beast is facing intense backlash over an op-ed that claims members from the “dirtbag left”—a collection of leftist podcasters and Twitter personalities—are cozying up with right-wing extremists.

The roughly 4,500-word article posits that leftist media personalities are legitimizing and even adopting far-right views. The piece’s author, Alexander Reid Ross, bases his conclusion on his subjects’ tweets, podcast appearances, comedic bits, and the like.

The story has been met with a thorough online thrashing of Ross and the Daily Beast. While a few have praised it, more, including many of the story’s subjects and their associates, have mocked it as ill-informed, inaccurate, and unsupported by the evidence. They claim Ross has taken things out of context in an effort to malign them with what Max Blumenthal, a subject of Ross’ earlier (and retracted) reporting called “McCarthyite smears.” Several have claimed Ross has a history of shoddy, biased reporting. Ross and the Daily Beast have stood by the story.

Ross believes the attacks on him, which he says range from “off-base to hateful” and have also been directed at his friends, are indicative that he’s onto something. He described the saga as “terrifying” to both himself and his family, partly based on lies, and said that one of the smears had made its way onto a site frequented by people “of fringe political beliefs united in their commitment to cyber-stalking (and linked to suicides).”

“In short, making it seem like I’m in some conspiracy to smear people on the left is, in fact, an unfounded conspiracy theory meant to discredit me and smear the groups I work with,” he told the Daily Dot via email, noting that he was speaking in his personal capacity.

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